Squaw Peak from the south
Squaw Peak lies in the middle of the Squaw Benchmark ridge located in the Uinta Mountains of Utah between the Little East Fork Blacks Fork and the East Fork Smiths Fork. The ridge runs north/south. At the north end lies 11776' Bald Mountain
, followed by Moose Peak
, Squaw Peak, Squaw Benchmark
, and finally at the south end, point 12960 which ends the ridge. Point 12960' also connects with the east/west main Uinta crest.
The Squaw Benchmark Ridge
Squaw Peak has no official name, that is the name Scott
has dubbed it in his list
of 12000 footers of Utah with over 200 feet of prominence. There are two other peaks in the list with the name of Squaw. There is Squaw Benchmark
, located 1.63 miles south on the ridge, and another Squaw Peak. The other Squaw Peak
(12855') is officially named as such and is located between Cleveland
and Explorer Peaks
10.4 miles southwest from this Squaw Peak. This Squaw Peak (12686') overlooks Red Castle and the Red Castle Lakes to its southeast. Red Castle is an anomaly of the Uintas because most Uinta ridges do not end so abruptly.
View east of Lower Red Castle Lake and Red Castle
View southeast of Red Castle, Red Castle Lake, and Wilson Peak
One ridge over to the west lies the Blacks Fork Ridge, and behind it are East Lovenia
, Mount Lovenia
, Wasatch BM
, NW Wasatch
, and Tokewanna Peak
View southwest of Blacks Fork Ridge
The summit of Squaw Peak (12686') is almost flat. On the topo map there are two small bumps marked with equal elevation. They were almost indiscernible. My GPSr reported that the southernmost was taller by a few feet.
Squaw Peak is in the middle
squaw Peak is right, Squaw Benchmark is left
Having only 226 feet of prominence, the actual point on the ridge which is Squaw Peak may be difficult to pick out from the trails to the east or west, but if you know what you're looking for it's easy. Here's what it looks like from the Little East Fork Blacks Fork Trail to the west.
Squaw Peak is the flat summit on the right.
Here's what it looks like from the north ridge of Mount Powell to the east.
View from the east
This peak has little likelihood of being climbed. Most of the people who live in Utah live within a half hour of other mountains and we are all spoiled. It takes about 2.5 hours to get to the trailhead for this one from the Salt Lake area.
Squaw Peak is most easily accessed by the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead which is the way I went, but you can also access it by the China Meadows Trailhead.
East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead
Driving to the trailhead you can see Squaw Peak on the left
Take I80 to exit 34 in Wyoming and head to Fort Bridger. Go 5.3 miles to a blinking red light. Turn right on Wyoming state route 414 and go 3 miles to Wyoming state route 410. Turn right onto 410 and follow it for 13 miles. First you will see a sign that says the pavement ends in 750 feet. Shortly you will see another sign for "Blacks Fork River Access Area" and then another one that says "Wasatch Nat'l Forest/Meeks Cabin 13". If you miss the signs, don't worry, the three sets of rumble strips should wake you up. Do as the signs say and turn left. The road you turn onto starts out paved but soon changes to dirt. Follow the main road 23.6 miles to the signboard (just past a gate) for the East Fork Blacks Fork Trail. The trail start is just before the signboard. There is no parking right at the trail start. Instead, continue on the road for just a few feet and turn right and then left into the parking lot.
On the Wyoming side, the dirt road is beautifully graded and maintained and you can make good time. Once it crosses the Utah border it gets noticeably worse and once it passes the intersection with the dirt road headed for the Mirror Lake Highway, it gets worse still. It's somewhat rocky but is fine for passenger cars if you go slow.
Take I80 to exit 34 in Wyoming and head to Fort Bridger. Go 5.3 miles to a blinking red light. Turn right onto Wyoming state route 414 and go 3 miles to Wyoming state route 410. Turn right onto 410 and follow it fro 7 miles until it makes the second sharp right bend where there is a sign for Robertson. At this bend, you go straight onto a very well maintained dirt road. Follow the signs for the China Meadows Trailhead which you will reach in 20 miles or so.
The East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead
Normal wilderness area restrictions apply. Check the signboard at the trailhead for the most uptodate information.
There is a free campground at the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead. There are 7 official sites all of which have fire pits. Four of these have picnic tables and three do not. Even on weekends, I've seen at most three sites in use. There is no water so you need to bring your own.
There is also a nonfree campground at China Meadows. But, when I visited this trailhead a few weeks ago, I arrived in the dark and left in the dark and therefore can't say anything about it other than that it exists.
When to Climb
Late summer and early fall are great times to hike in the Uintas, because the temperatures are still fairly warm, the stream crossings are easier, and there are no mosquitoes.
The dirt road to the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead is not plowed.
The dirt road to the China Meadows Trailhead is only plowed for the first 7-8 miles or so. The plowing stops at the left turn to the Henrys Fork Trailhead.
Red Castle and the Squaw Benchmark ridge on a beautiful mid October day
Routes OverviewFrom Lower Red Castle Lake
Squaw Benchmark Ridge Loop
Squaw Peak is to the left of the snow patch.
The Red Castle Lake area located along the East Fork Smiths Fork is a popular destination for backpackers. Squaw Peak is located about 2 miles west of Lower Red Castle Lake and judging from a topo map and pictures would make a nice side trip. However, not having gone this way myself, I can't vouch for it.
Instead of climbing Squaw Peak directly as mentioned above, I think it is more rewarding to get on the ridge at your first opportunity and walk along the whole thing. You can start at the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead, bushwhack up to the ridge, follow the ridge over Moose Peak, Squaw Peak, and Squaw Benchmark to point 12960, turn west and follow the main Uinta crest west to Squaw Pass, and then take the Little East Fork Blacks Fork and the East Fork Blacks Fork trails back to the trailhead. See the route page for more info.
Looking back along route from the north saddle of Squaw Peak
Looking forward along route
Squaw Peak is at the far left end in shadows
A typical summer day in the Uintas dawns without a cloud in the sky. By mid morning faint wisps of clouds are seen on the horizon. By midday the sky is half full of big puffy clouds. In the afternoon the sky is mostly overcast and possibly raining, but by early evening blue sky makes a comeback. Afternoon thunderstorms are frequent.
Here is a link
to the current 7 day forecast for Squaw Peak.
Topo map of Squaw Benchmark Ridge including Squaw Peak